Family Meal Program General Information

Thank you for scheduling a date to provide a home-cooked meal for the 55 guest families at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. This program provides a much-needed service to our families who are supporting their children and often do not have the time, energy, or funds to prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal while they stay here. Below are the next steps you should take to prepare for your scheduled visit.

The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland requires all of its meals to be prepared here in House. Food prepared in commercial cooking establishments, such as restaurants, catering services, or cafeterias, and then brought in or delivered is acceptable. We cannot accept meals prepared off site from volunteers due to the following reasons:

  • We have no way to manage the time between preparation and service.
  • One of the leading causes of foodborne illness is improper temperature control of food.
  • We have no way to know how or when food was handled, stored, or prepared at a home kitchen.
  • Licensed retail food establishments are inspected and must follow food safety regulations. They also have proper hot holding equipment for storing prepared foods at a safe temperature while transporting.

Age Requirement

All volunteers must be 13 years of age or older. Adequate supervision helps ensure a good volunteer experience for all. For youth groups, we recommend one adult for every four youth.

Group Size

In order to minimize crowding in the kitchen and make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate in meal prep, a maximum of 10 volunteers will be permitted.

Serving Requirements

  • If providing a brunch or lunch, you will purchase and prepare enough food for 50-60 people.
  • If providing a dinner, you will purchase and prepare enough food for 75-100 people.

Please remember that these are only estimates. The actual number of people attending a meal varies even when our House is full, so we are unable to give exact numbers and estimates of family members or children. Not all families will be able to make it to the House in time for your meal, but many will be looking for leftovers later. Rest assured that your meal is much appreciated, whether eaten in the kitchen at meal time, carried away, or warmed up later as leftovers.   

Menu Requirements

Groups are asked to prepare a balanced meal with a main dish, side dish, vegetable, and dessert. While you do not need to plan for any special dietary restrictions, we always encourage providing a vegetarian option and a non-pork option. When in doubt, select a menu that is a crowd-pleaser at your own home. Keep in mind the cooking experience of your group and how many helpers you’ll have in the kitchen. If we do not hear from you, we will contact you about a week before your meal to confirm your menu choices as we share this with our families.

We have lots of pasta and taco nights at our House! If this is a menu your group would like to serve, please mention this when scheduling your meal as we try to limit these menus to one to two times per week on non-adjoining days.

Items Provided by RMH

The following items are available for your use at RMH. Please feel free to check with us on items not seen on this list. We may still have them.

  • All items likely needed to cook your meal – pots, pans, baking sheets, utensils, etc.
  • Two standard ovens, plus potential access to an additional four ovens
  • Two microwaves
  • Small appliances: hand mixer, blender, stand mixer, crockpot, electric griddles
  • Plates, silverware, cups for meal service
  • Standard condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, etc.

We have a pantry with ingredients that are available for you to use to supplement the items needed for your menu. Please plan to check in with us before going grocery shopping to see what we have that you may be able to avoid purchasing.

Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are provided to our families free of charge, and we have Coca-Cola products available for purchase at just 50¢. We also have an ice machine. It is not required that you bring additional beverages, but if you desire, you are welcome to do so.

Scheduled Cooking & Serving Times

Dinner and either a brunch or lunch meal are scheduled daily. Brunch/lunch groups may arrive as early as 10 am and will serve their meal between 11 am and 12 pm. Dinner groups usually arrive around 3 pm and will serve their meal between 5 pm and 6 pm. Your group is asked to serve the meal on our buffet line and clean up your cooking and prep areas. After that, you are welcome to stay and eat with our families, but you may wrap things up if needed.

If you think your group will need more time, please let us know at the time of scheduling. This program is typically a 2.5- to 3-hour time commitment.

Scheduling Your Meal

To schedule a meal or inquire about available dates, please contact our Group Partnership Coordinator, Scott Lovasz, via email or call (216) 229-5757 x1128.

Though we attempt to accommodate the requested date of your group, our meal calendar does fill up quickly. If you have a specific date or week you would like to volunteer, it is best to contact us 4-6 weeks in advance. If you are inquiring about available dates, knowing what meal you are interested in serving (brunch/lunch or dinner) and what day(s) of the week would work well for your group is helpful information to have at the ready.

No community restitution or court ordered volunteers can be accepted.